Batteries fully charged, Nick Harper returns with his latest findings from Worldcupsville as the knockout stages begin...
OK, so we’re all very happy for Brazil, who wake up today to find themselves in the last eight of the World Cup finals. But let’s all spare a thought for the poor slaughtered chicken they sacrificed so that they could prevail.
That Brazil beat Chile was never really in doubt. Even when it went to penalties, which went to sudden-death penalties, there was only going to be one winner.
We knew this because we were told it was pre-ordained. “We're going to the final and we're going to win,” said Rita de Cassia Marciano, a practitioner of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomble, whatever that might be, and, to be honest, we haven’t looked it up.
She claimed yesterday that the gods had told her that a Brazil win was as good as in the bag, largely because they are the hosts. “The tournament is in our home,” she said.
Of course, being of cynical mind, you probably think she means Brazil, as hosts, will therefore enjoy a few of those kind ‘favours’ that FIFA supposedly like to hand out to the hosts, particularly the big hosts such as Brazil. You know, a soft penalty here, a conveniently disallowed header when there was no infringement there, that kind of thing – of which there is absolutely no solid evidence.
But that’s not what she means at all. It’s far more sinister than that. “It's as if the neighbour's chicken wandered into our kitchen,” she explained. “And we've got to eat that chicken, throw it into the pot."
Last night, Brazil threw Chile’s chicken into the pot, boiled it on high until dead and then ate it with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. Eff-eff-eff-eff-eff, as Dr Hannibal might say. How the hell do you spell that effy bit?
A small bruise and a strong pain
Inevitably though, most attention was still trained on Luis Suarez, for yesterday we got to read the defence statement he presented to FIFA. And it was well worth the wait.
“In no way it happened how you have described, as a bite or intent to bite,” wrote someone who may or may not have been Luis Suarez. “After the impact... I lost my balance. At that moment I hit my face against the player leaving a small bruise on my cheek and a strong pain in my teeth.”
Despite this laughable toss being dismissed by FIFA, Uruguay now plan to appeal and have several more days in which to further embellish their yarn. Which is good news for everybody.
Having read The Statement, more people who haven’t previously been quoted were finally quoted today. “He should go through a treatment,” suggested FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke. “I don’t know if one exists but he should do something for himself because it is definitely wrong.”
Pele was quoted saying he believed the ban to be fair, so just to piss Pele off, Diego Maradona went on TV wearing a t-shirt bearing the slogan ‘Luis, we are with you’. “This is an unjust punishment, the act of an incredible mafia. FIFA cannot talk about morals to anyone.” Certainly not to El Diego.
Meanwhile, former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said the club will not turn its back on their £80 million asset. Or he said something about him but he speaks in such impenetrable Glaswegian, we only caught the words “Suarez” and “nae”. Frankly, he could have been saying anything.
Finally, Uruguay finally stopped playing the victims to become, er, the victims. They were beaten 2-0 by James Rodriguez, the little-known €45 million Monaco man. The Uruguayans went down fighting, as we always assumed they would. So maybe now we can all just forget about Suarez and Noshgate and get on with the rest of this World Cup. Maybe? Pigs will sooner fly.
Speaking of which, Louis van Gaal has been offered a flight to the moon as a reward if Holland win this World Cup. A Dutch aerospace engineering company made the offer, saying: “We are mega proud of the achievements of Oranje in Brazil. An unearthly performance deserves an unearthly reward! [We'll take] the whole selection of 23 players and of course, Louis van Gaal and his lucky golden penis!”
They didn’t quite say that last bit, no, but they were probably thinking it, being Dutch, etc etc.
Cynics have suggested that this is nothing more than a publicity push by this company we won’t be naming, because they don’t really believe Holland can win this World Cup.
El Diario would love it, love it, if they did, but we can’t see it either. Particularly as it’s been suggested that Dirk Kuyt is set to start at left-back against Mexico tomorrow. Go figure.
In other news...
The creaking old Luddite running FIFA today announced that UEFA will introduce goal-line technology at Euro 2016, to complement the excellent tech in use at these World Cup finals.
“I have spoken to UEFA president Michel Platini who said he will introduce goal-line technology at the next European Championship in France in 2016,” said Sepp Blatter, although UEFA quickly denied any decision had been made. So this is either crossed wires, political maneuvering or just the ramblings of a mad old man. And a waste of space. So what else?
Well, adidas have removed the large advert they had placed beside Copacabana beach of a snarling, teeth-bared Luis Suarez after it became a tourist attraction. They’ve replaced it with an advert of Dani Alves, who hasn’t done anything wrong. Not yet, at least.
Portugal’s stars have arrived back home! We've seen the pictures!! They took a plane to get over the watery bits, then got in some cars. Cristiano Ronaldo hailed a taxi and apparently put his bag in the boot. Hey listen, Suarez aside, it’s been a remarkably slow day.
Look, news just in: a mad woman in Brazil just killed a chicken. Hold the front page.